The Holy Great Prince Vladimir, Equal of the Apostles. Few names in the annals of history can compare in significance with the name of Saint Vladimir, the Baptizer of Rus, who stands at the beginning of the spiritual destiny of the Russian Church and the Russian Orthodox people. Vladimir was the…
The Holy Martyrs Cyricus and Julita lived in the city of Iconium in the province of Lykaoneia in Asia Minor. Saint Julita was descended from an illustrious family and was a Christian. Widowed early on, she raised her three-year old-son Cyricus (Quiricus). During the emperor Diocletian’s…
This courageous soldier of Christ was from the island of Tenedos, which lies opposite the renowned city of Troy, and he was one of the first Christians to be put to death during the persecution of the Church under Diocletian in the early IV century. Since Saint Aboudimos would not agree to worship…
1. THE HOLY MARTYR JULITTA AND HER SON, CYRIACUS [QUIRICUS]
Saint Julitta was of noble birth. She was widowed at an early age with her newborn child Cyriacus. She lived in Iconium in the town of Lycaonia and was completely devoted to the Faith of Christ. She immediately baptized her son after his birth and when he was three years old instructed him in the Faith and taught him to pray as much as a child of that age was capable. When Diocletian decreed the persecution of the Christians in the town of Iconium, much innocent blood was shed. Julitta took her son and hid from the wrath of the heathen in the city of Seleucid. It was not any better there. Julitta was arrested and, as a Christian, was brought before the judge. Since Julitta courageously confessed her faith in the Lord Jesus, the judge, in order to make her feel sorrow and cause her to waver, took the child in his arms and began to caress him. Cyriacus cried out loudly: "I am a Christian, release me to my mother!" Cyriacus turning his face away from the judge began to scratch him with his hands. The judge became so enraged that he hurled the child to the ground and pushed him with his feet. The child slid along the stone stairs and gave up his holy and innocent soul to God. Seeing how Cyriacus suffered before her eyes, St. Julitta was joyful and gave thanks to God because He made her son worthy of the martyr's wreath. After much suffering, Julitta was beheaded in the year 304 A.D. The relics of Saints Cyriacus and Julitta, even today, are miracle working. Part of the relics of these saints is to be found in Ohrid in the hospital chapel of the Holy Birth-giver of God.
2. SAINT VLADIMIR THE GREAT, PRINCE OF RUSSIA
At baptism Vladimir was called Basil and was the son of Prince Svyatoslav, and the grandson of Igor and Olga. In the beginning Vladimir was a total pagan both in his belief and in his lifestyle. Learning that other faiths exist, he carefully began to inquire as to which of them was the very best. For this reason he sent emissaries to Constantinople. When the emissaries returned they informed the prince that they attended a service in the Orthodox Church of the Divine Wisdom and that they were "outside themselves, not knowing whether they were on earth or in heaven." This inspired Vladimir to be baptized and to baptize his people. The main idol, Perun, was removed from the hill of Kiev and hurled into the Dnieper river. After embracing the Christian Faith, Vladimir completely changed his life and exerted all of his efforts to correctly fulfill all the rules of this Faith. In place of the destroyed idols, Vladimir ordered churches to be built throughout his state and he built a beautiful church to the All-Holy Mother of God in Kiev. This church was built on the same spot where St. Theodore and his son, John, earlier suffered martyrdom for Christ (July 12). With that same irresistible effort with which Vladimir earlier protected idolatry, he now spread Christianity. He found repose in the Lord in the year 1015 A.D.
HYMN OF PRAISE
SAINTS JULITTA AND CYRIACUS
The rage of idolatry, when it ruled the world,
Julitta, with the child Cyriacus suffered,
Two innocent victims, two neo-symbols,
Of the Incarnate Word, two living witnesses.
Of all earthly riches, more precious is truth,
Neither for herself nor for her son did the mother grieve,
Over youth, wealth nor strength, did not grieve,
Follows in Christ's footsteps, without turning back
Who, the truth recognizes, is born again,
To peace and freedom, truth leads him.
Blessed Julitta, the truth sensed
When with the Cross she was baptized and with the Faith illumined.
Full of God's peace and true freedom
Without screams and fear, she saw her son dead
Without screams and fear, her head she placed under the sword
By a martyr's death, she glorified the Truth.
Hospitality is respected in other faiths but Christianity emphasized hospitality as an obligation and responsibility. On the other hand, gratitude for hospitality is no less an obligation and responsibility for Christians. He who learns to be grateful to men for hospitality will know how to be grateful even to God for hospitality. For what are we here on earth except as guests of God? What are angels in heaven except as guests of God. The story is told about Emperor Philip of Macedonia, how he severely punished one of his courtiers for ingratitude. The emperor sent his courtier overseas to fulfill a task for him. The courtier accomplished this task and returned by boat. A tempest destroyed the boat and the courtier found himself in the waves. Fortunately, it was not too far from the shore. A fisherman saw the man drowning, hurried to his assistance with his small boat and brought him ashore. After he recovered and rested, the courtier returned to the emperor and related the misfortunate incident about the tempest on the sea. The emperor wishing to reward the courtier asked him what does he wish the emperor to give him? The courtier mentioned that fisherman and said to the emperor that he would like most of all if he would grant him the property along the sea belonging to the fisherman. The emperor granted the courtier his wish. When the courtier settled on the estate of his greatest benefactor [the fisherman], then the fisherman in great despair went to the emperor, related all and complained. He said that he saved the life of the courtier and now he ousted him from his home. Upon hearing this, the emperor became furious with the ungrateful courtier and ordered that he be branded on his forehead with the words: "ungrateful guest."
To contemplate the miraculous blossoming of Aaron's rod (Numbers 17):
1. How God, in order to quiet the murmuring against Moses and Aaron, ordered that the rods of all the elders of the tribes be placed in the Meeting Tent;
2. How overnight only the withered rod of Aaron became green and blossomed and brought forth fruit;
3. How even the souls of men, dead to sin, God can enliven.
About grace and peace
"Grace and peace be multiplied to you through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord" (2 Peter 1:2).
Brethren, grace and peace multiplies "through the knowledge of God." However, brethren, through the knowledge of creation outside of God, as cut off from God or contrary to God, sorrow and unrest multiplies. Sorrow and unrest is multiplied among those who are familiarizing themselves with things without the knowledge of God; does it not sufficiently witness to the multitude of suicides precisely among those who chose, as a trade for themselves, to study the nature and life of mankind without God? O how great a multitude among them are nervous, irritated, embittered, darkened and hysterical souls who are only separated by a day or a month from suicide. However, grace and peace multiples "through the knowledge of God." That, the apostle personally experienced and his precious experience he passes on to others.
Neither grace nor peace are the gifts of the earth but rather are the gifts of heaven. God bestows these gifts to those who labor to multiply their knowledge about Him.
Brethren, what is the quickest path which leads to the knowledge of God? Without a doubt, through "Christ Jesus our Lord." He is the Revealer and He is the Revelation, He is the Wise and the Wisdom, He is the Teacher and the Knowledge. Grace is from Him. Peace is from Him. He who knows God through the knowledge of created beings in nature and through the laws of nature, as the heathens do, does nothing wrong but progresses along the path in a round about manner and proceeds on an indirect path upon which many go astray and are lost. But he who comes to the knowledge of God through conscience and destiny of men, as the moralists do, does nothing wrong but that one also goes by in a round about manner and difficult path and can go astray and become lost. But he who knows God by knowing the Lord Christ is on the shortest and surest path.
O Lord Jesus, help us on the path to You and to Your Father and the Holy Spirit.
To You be glory and thanks always. Amen.